Set to straddle defence, delivery and agricultural assessments, among other things, the drone sector is estimated to grow to $2 billion. And the government has made it clear that it is all for indigenous manufacturing of these leggy flying machines.
The drone market might be at a nascent stage in India, but it has already attracted the attention of the government and big corporations. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said in her Union Budget speech that drone services will be promoted through support for startups and upskilling. The government has also already introduced several production-linked incentive schemes (PLIs) for the drone industry.
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The government has also banned the import of all drones in the completely built up (CBU), completely knocked down (CKD) and semi-knocked down (SKD) form to boost indigenous manufacturing of drones.
Now, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is looking to carve out a share of the industry that is expected to grow to $2 billion in size, according to estimates from the Civil Aviation Ministry. Business Standard reported that the company aims to be a key player in the space through Bangalore-based startup Asteria Aerospace, in which RIL holds a majority stake.
While RIL’s ambitions will take some years to yield fruit, here are the current major players in the drone market in India.
Infoedge India is the parent company of many popular websites in the country. Naukri, 99Acres, Jeevansathi, Shiksha.com and many others are owned by Infoedge.
The company aims to be a pioneer in drone technology and manufacturing. Infoedge has entered the segment through its investment in Skylark Drones, a startup working on developing infrastructure for a global drone ecosystem.
Zomato, the country's largest food delivery company, has also made efforts to diversify its business. The company, which opened to the primary market last year, is now betting big on food delivery through drones. The company hopes to make the delivery process faster and more efficient by adopting drones for its delivery fleet.
Zomato bought startup TechEagle, a leading manufacturer of long-range, high speed, and heavy payload delivery drone solutions. The company aimed to build a hub-to-hub delivery network using hybrid drones, but things did not work out.
In 2020, Zomato partnered with Vodafone Idea to continue working on beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) drones.
Paras Defence and Space Technologies
Paras Defence and Space Technologies is a Mumbai-based defence engineering company that is primarily focused on the design, development, manufacturing, and testing of defence and aerospace services.
The company’s subsidiary Paras Aerospace is mostly focused on developing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology. The company has already tied up with European drone maker FIXAR, Nurjana Technologies and an Israeli company to bring drones to India.
Zen Technologies Limited
Perhaps slightly different from other companies on the list, Zen Technologies is a defence company that has developed anti-drone technology. The company even secured a contract with the Indian Air Force for providing anti-drone solutions. In addition, the company also works on building heavy-lift logistics drones in addition to other surveillance and threat reduction capabilities.
DCM Sriram Industries
A diverse industrial group catering to the manufacturing of sugar and distillery products, synthetic fibre like rayon and nylon, chemicals, armoured vehicles, shipping containers and even hand sanitisers, the company bought a 30 percent stake in a joint venture with Turkish drone maker Zyrone Dynamics Havacilik Danismanlik Ve Ar-Ge San. Tic.
The joint venture aims to produce commercial and military application unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the near future.